After three decades, there can still be something new for the Tim Hortons North Okanagan athletic awards.
For the first time in the awards’ 30-year history, there was a tie for the Athlete of the Year Award, presented in an outdoor ceremony at Vernon’s Spirit Square Thursday, June 22.
Taking the honour were Aimee Skinner and Leah Goldstein.
Skinner is a multi-sports star who led the Kalamalka Lakers to win the B.C. High School Senior Girls AA Volleyball Championships and was named tournament MVP. Skinner will continue her volleyball career at Vancouver Island University in Nanaimo.
She also helped the Vernon Venom U19 squad win the Western Canadian ringette championship in Winnipeg.
Goldstein was recognized for her dominance in cycling. She became the first woman in 2022 to be the overall winner of the Race Across America cycling event from San Diego to Annapolis, Maryland.
Goldstein was not at the awards ceremony as she was busy defending her title in the event, where she placed fourth.
Awards are also presented to the top team and leader in sports.
The Team of the Year is the U19 Zone 5 Venom ringette from the Greater Vernon Ringette Association. They won the B.C. and Western Canadian championship. The team has played together since the U10 season, and multiple players on the team have represented the region at the B.C. Winter Games.
The Leadership in Sports Award went to popular Vernon Curling Club manager Dave Merklinger, who hung up his ice-making equipment at the end of the 2023 Tim Hortons Brier. He plans to focus on his duties at the local club.
Merklinger is a legend in curling circles for his ice-making ability. He has prepared ice for the Brier, Scotties Tournament of Hearts, provincial and world championships, as well as the Olympics.
After receiving the award, Merklinger tried to recruit members of the Venom to take up curling.
The final winners were chosen by a panel of media and sports community representatives following the nomination process.